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About Major League Soccer

WHAT:
 
Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and was founded in 1996, after the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup. MLS will kick off its 20th season on March 6, 2015.
 
CLUBS in 2015:
 
Eastern Conference:                                     Western Conference:
 
Chicago Fire                                                    Colorado Rapids
           
Columbus Crew SC                                         FC Dallas
 
D.C. United                                                      Houston Dynamo        
 
Montreal Impact                                              Sporting Kansas City                                      
                                                                                               
New England Revolution                                 LA Galaxy                                           
 
New York City FC                                            Portland Timbers
                                                                                                  
New York Red Bulls                                        Real Salt Lake
 
Orlando City SC                                              San Jose Earthquakes     
                                                                                               
Philadelphia Union                                          Seattle Sounders FC
                                                                                                                 
Toronto FC                                                      Vancouver Whitecaps FC
 
                                                                                                                                                      
SEASON:
  • The 20 MLS teams will play a 34-game regular season schedule, 17 at home and 17 away, starting March 6, 2015.
  • Last season, LA Galaxy hoisted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy – becoming the first team in league history to win five MLS Cup championships. The Galaxy defeated New England Revolution 2-1 in extra time in front of their home crowd at StubHub Center on Dec. 7, 2014. LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane earned MLS Cup MVP honors after notching the game-winning goal.
  • In 2014, Seattle Sounders FC were awarded the Supporters’ Shield, given to the team that finishes with the most regular season points, for the first time in club history.
  • 2015 expansion teams New York City FC and Orlando City SC made waves last year with high-profile signings leading up to their MLS debut. NYC FC landed EPL giant Frank Lampard and Spanish legend David Villa, while Brazilian superstar Kaka became the face of Orlando City SC.
  • Last year, MLS announced the formation of a new strategy for the Los Angeles, ceasing operations of Chivas USA and awarding the Los Angeles market with a new club, LAFC, that will begin play in 2017.
  • In addition to strong television viewership (a record high 2 million viewers watched MLS Cup 2014), soccer fans supported their clubs during the 2014 postseason in record numbers, as an all-time high of 23,633 fans per game attended the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.The 2014 MLS regular season also set a new attendance record, averaging 19,147 fans per game during the League’s 19th season.
  • In anticipation of Major League Soccer’s landmark 20th season, MLS unveiled a monumental redesign with a new crest and brand identity that reflects the new phase that the League has entered – one of new teams, new stars, new media partnerships and new stadiums and fans.
 
PLAYERS:      
 
In 2015, MLS clubs are home to players born in more than 60 countries outside the United States and Canada, demonstrating the diversity of Major League Soccer. Among the five major team professional sports leagues in the United States, MLS is the most diverse. About two-thirds of the entire MLS player pool is U.S.-born.
 
A description of several notable MLS players follows:
 
Kaka (Orlando City SC): The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year and 2002 World Cup champion joined Orlando in July, quickly becoming the face of the franchise. A veteran Brazilian national team player, Kaka jumpstarted his career at Sao Paulo FC before enjoying successful stints at European powerhouses AC Milan and Real Madrid.
 
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC): One of the mainstays of the U.S. men’s national team, Jozy Altidore made his return to MLS in early 2015 after signing with Canadian club Toronto FC. The U.S. goal scorer spent six years in Europe at a multitude of top-flight leagues, most recently with EPL side Sunderland. Altidore has 77 caps for the United States, recording 26 goals for the Stars-and-Stripes.
 
David Villa (New York City FC): The all-time leading goal scorer for the Spanish national team, Villa joined NYCFC after helping lead Atlético Madrid to the La Liga championship in 2014. Prior to that, the dynamic forward won two La Liga titles with FC Barcelona (2011, 2013) and was crowned World Cup champions with Spain in 2010.
 
Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC): The current captain of the U.S. national team returned to MLS in 2013 after spending more than six years in the English Premier League. The 2014 Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup winner captained the United States at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
 
Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy): One of the best defenders in MLS, Gonzalez was named MLS Rookie of the Year in 2009, MLS Defender of the Year in 2011 and MLS Cup MVP in 2012. Has emerged as a starting center back for the U.S. national team, playing a total of 180 minutes at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
 
Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls): Wright-Phillips made quite the impression in his first full season in MLS, claiming the Budweiser Golden Boot and coming up just one goal shy of breaking the MLS single-season goals record. The Englishman’s 27-goal campaign will go down as one of the most spectacular, with Wright-Phillips registering six multi-goal games—including three hat tricks—in 32 appearances.
 
Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy): Ireland’s all-time leading goal scorer and one of the top ten goal scorers in the history of the Premier League, Keane joined the Galaxy during the 2011 summer transfer window and has helped lead the Galaxy to three MLS Cup titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014, while also earning the 2014 MLS Volkswagen MVP Award.
 
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC): Sent shockwaves through the soccer world when he made his return to MLS at 26, transferring from Italian giants AS Roma to Toronto in early 2014. The U.S. midfielder played every minute of the U.S.’s World Cup campaign last summer.
 
Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers): The 2013 MLS Newcomer of the Year sparked the Timbers to their first playoff appearance and the Western Conference Championship in 2013. Last season, the Argentine set Timbers MLS single-season record marks in goals (11) and assists (14) for the Cascadia club, while his 14 helpers were good for second-best in MLS.
 
Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake): MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2010, Saborío is the all-time leading scorer for Real Salt Lake and one of the pivotal players for the Costa Rica national team as they prepare for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
 
Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): A crafty two-way midfielder, Zusi led Sporting to MLS Cup 2013 and has established his position on the U.S. national team, making the U.S.’s final World Cup roster. The 27-year-old contributed the game-winning assist in the Americans’ 2-1 win over Ghana and assisted on another goal in his first World Cup start against Portugal, a 2-2 draw.
 
 
INVESTORS:  
 
Major League Soccer is structured as a single, limited liability company (single-entity).  In the single-entity business structure, club operators own a financial stake in the League, not just their individual team.  The MLS investors are:
  • Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG): Investor-operator of the Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy (other domestic sports business ventures include the Staples Center, The Home Depot Center, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings). 
  • Hunt Sports Group: Investor-operator of FC Dallas (other sports business ventures include the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and NBA’s Chicago Bulls).
  • Kraft Soccer, LLC: Investor-operator of the New England Revolution (other sports business ventures include the NFL’s New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium).
  • Kroenke Sports Enterprises: Investor-operator of the Colorado Rapids (other sports business ventures include the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, NFL’s St. Louis Rams and EPL’s Arsenal).
  • Dell Loy Hansen: Investor-operator of Real Salt Lake. Utah-based entrepreneur and Real Estate developer became sole owner of the club in January, 2013, after purchasing co-ownership stake in a trio of properties – Real Salt Lake, Rio Tinto Stadium and ESPN700 Sports Talk Radio - previously owned by Dave Checketts and SCP Worldwide.
  • Red Bull Company Limited: Investor-operator of Red Bull New York. The Austrian company produces the world’s leading energy drink.Other sports investments include a NASCAR team, Red Bull Salzburg, extreme sports and Formula One auto racing.
  • Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment: Investor-operator of Toronto FC (other sports business ventures include the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Center).
  • OnGoal, LLC: Investor-operator group of Sporting Kansas City consists of five Kansas City-area residents led by Cerner Corporation executives Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig.
  • D.C. United Holdings: Investor-operators of D.C. United are Erick Thohir, Jason Levien and William H.C. ("Will") Chang. Chang holds ownership interest in Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants, while Thohir has a controlling stake in F.C. Internazionale Milano of the Italian Serie A.
  • John Fisher and Lew Wolff: Investor-operator of the San Jose Earthquakes joined MLS as an expansion team in the Western Conference for the 2008 season. Fisher and Wolff are the principle owners of MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
  • Andell Holdings, LLC: Investor-operator of the Chicago Fire. Andell Holdings is a private investment firm with global business and investment interests led by Andrew Hauptman.
  • Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer, Drew Carey and Paul Allen (Vulcan Sports and Entertainment): Investor-operators of Seattle Sounders FC consist of Hollywood producer Joe Roth, local entrepreneur Adrian Hanauer, television personality Drew Carey and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (owner of VSE that operates the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and NBA’s Portland Trailblazers).
  • Keystone Sports and Entertainment, LLC: Investor-operators of Philadelphia Union include iStar Financial Chairman & CEO Jay Sugarman, veteran sports executive Nick Sakiewicz, Christopher and Robert Buccini and David Pollin, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group.
  • Golden Boy Productions and Brener International Group: Mexican-American boxing icon Oscar De La Hoya and Gabriel Brener together invested in the Houston Dynamo and now own 50 percent of the club.
  • Greg Kerfoot, Jeff Mallett, Steve Luczo and Steve Nash: Investor-operators of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC include Greg Kerfoot (founder of software company Business Objects), Jeff Mallett (former Yahoo! President and COO and owner of English club Derby County FC), Steve Luczo (President and CEO of Seagate Technology) and Steve Nash (current NBA player and Vancouver native).
  • Peregrine, LLC:Investor-operator group of the Portland Timbers consists of former U.S. Treasury Secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs Hank Paulson and his son, Merritt Paulson, a professional sports entrepreneur.
  • Free 2 Play Holdings: Joey Saputo is the principal Investor-Operator of the Montreal Impact. The Saputo Family is the founder of Saputo, a major international dairy products company.
  • Precourt Sports Ventures LLC: Investor-operator group of the Columbus Crew. PSV is a privately held investment and management firm focused on sport-entertainment business led by Managing Partner Anthony Precourt.
  • City Football Group US Holdco LLC: Investor-operator group of New York City Football Club consists of a partnership of Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees. Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new club. As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group. Team to begin play in 2015.
  • Orlando Sports Holdings, LLC:Investor-operators of Orlando City SC include majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva, and founder and managing partner Phil Rawlins (other sports business ventures include EPL’s Stoke City F.C.). Team to begin play in 2015.
  • AMB Group: Investor-operator of the Atlanta team, led by Arthur Blank. Team to begin play in 2017. Also the parent company for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
 
STADIUMS:
 
Major League Soccer has elevated the sport’s stature in North America by building soccer-specific stadiums.  In 1999, the League began moving aggressively to create custom-made venues for its teams that generate the atmosphere and intimacy the game deserves. The seating capacity for these stadiums is between 18,000 and 27,000 and the stadiums share design concepts with some of the finest soccer venues in the world. In 2015, 15 of 20 MLS clubs play their home games in stadiums built with soccer in mind. The existing MLS soccer stadiums are:
  • MAPFRE Stadium (Columbus, Ohio):Opened in 1999 as the home of the Columbus Crew SC. Built by the Hunt Family, this stadium has hosted two All-Star Games, MLS Cup and many important U.S. National Team games.
  • StubHub Center (Carson, Calif.): Opened in 2003 and is the luxurious home of the LA Galaxy. Hosted MLS All-Star Game and several MLS Cups.
  • Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas): Opened in 2005 as the home of FC Dallas. Hosted MLS Cup 2005 and MLS Cup 2006. A 145-acre multipurpose sports complex with 17 tournament-grade fields.
  • Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.):Located just 15 minutes south of downtown Chicago, the handsome venue debuted in 2006 and hosted the Sierra Mist All-Star Game with Chelsea FC competing against the MLS All-Stars.
  • BMO Field (Toronto, Canada): Toronto FC began play in MLS in 2007 and was host of the 2008 MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2010.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (Commerce City, Colo.): The Colorado Rapids’ stadium opened in 2007 and is the centerpiece of a 24-field soccer complex believed to be one of the world’s largest.
  • Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah): Real Salt Lake’s stadium opened in 2008 and was the host of the 2009 MLS All-Star Game.
  • Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.): The New York Red Bulls state-of-the-art stadium, inaugurated in 2010, is located 10 miles from midtown Manhattan.It features a dynamic form roof—a curving structure that wraps the entire 25,189-seat stadium in an elegant metal shell.
  • PPL Park (Chester, Penn.): This world-class waterfront stadium located just over 15 miles from Center City, Philadelphia.Built at the foot of the Commodore Barry Bridge, this 18,500-seat stadium is the home to Philadelphia Union and was inaugurated in 2010. PPL Park hosted the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25, 2012.
  • Providence Park (Portland, Ore.): Already steeped in sports and entertainment history, Providence Park underwent a $31 million renovation to create an exciting and authentic soccer facility. Will host 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
  • BC Place (Vancouver, Canada): Vancouver began their inaugural season in MLS at Empire Field before moving into the new BC Place Stadium in downtown Vancouver on October 2, 2011 when the club hosted its rival, Portland Timbers.BC Place has made improvements to the stadium with soccer fans in mind.The revitalized stadium seats 21,000 fans during regular season MLS matches.
  • Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kansas): The $180 million plus, state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium seats 18,467 soccer supporters and features a dramatic canopy roof that covers every seating section. The stadium features 36 suites and five clubs, including the innovative Members Club. Hosted the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2013
  • BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, Texas):Houston Dynamo’s new downtown Houston stadium, which seats 22,000, opened on May 12, 2012, and since then the Dynamo are undefeated at home in MLS action.
  • Stade Saputo (Montreal, Canada): Montreal Impact began their inaugural season in MLS at Olympic Stadium moving into the renovated Stade Saputo on the Olympic grounds in June of 2012.
  • Avaya Stadium (San Jose, California): San Jose Earthquakes begin the 2015 campaign in its brand new Avaya Stadium (capacity: 18,000). The European-inspired building is the first cloud-enabled venue in Major League Soccer and will be among the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world.
 
TELEVISION: 
 
·  The 2015 season, the first of an eight-year television and media rights partnership with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision, will showcase new, consistent national television schedules, expanded live game streaming and innovative season-ending schedule enhancements – giving fans more opportunities than ever to engage with MLS content.
 
·   Every MLS match is televised in 2015, either nationally or regionally, and most are available live on www.MLSsoccer.com and www.FutbolMLS.com.
 
SPONSORS:   
 
The portfolio of blue chip partners working with MLS to grow their business continues to expand with the growth of the League.  A list of current sponsors, suppliers, and partners – including the year in which the partnership was formed – follows:
 
adidas (athletic apparel and equipment): 1996
 
AdvoCare (sports drink): 2014
 
Allstate (insurance): 2011
 
AT&T (communications services): 2009
 
Audi (automobile ): 2015
 
Chipotle (fast-casual Mexican rest.): 2014
 
Continental Tire (tire): 2010
 
EA Sports (video game publisher): 2012
 
Etihad Airways (airline): 2014
 
Heineken (beer): 2015
 
The Home Depot (home improvement retailer): 2008
 
JELD-WEN (windows / doors): 2011
 
Johnson & Johnson: 2015
 
Kraft (Capri Sun) (juice drink): 2014
 
Makita USA (tools): 2004
 
Mondelēz International (food): 2015
 
Panasonic (consumer electronics): 2001
 
Red Bull (energy drink): 2006
 
Wells Fargo (retail banking, commercial lending): 2013
 
Windows (operating system): 2013
 
Xbox One (video game console): 2008